Start Art Map Weekend

Part III: Fun & Frolics At Pilgrim's Pit

Lee Barber || September 24th

'The Art Map as a collaborative project is a brilliant way for us all to come together, and celebrate the growth of Stoke's art scene. It's a long lasting document that will be beneficial to the artists and their spaces, long past this Saturday.'

Siobhan Mcaleer doesn't mince her words when I ask her to sum up what the Art Map has the potential to do for the city of Stoke-on-Trent. And anyone who knows Siobhan will know that she will be doing all she can to make sure the Art Map is as beneficial as it says on the tin.

Pilgrim's Pit, the 'community arts hub, a space for creation, collaboration, production, discussion and imagination. A mechanism for regeneration and direct public engagement', as the guys put it perfectly themselves, has played no small part in the broadcasting of Stoke's art scene and community this year. With Stoke's art map launching today and celebrations being held all over, visitors can enjoy areas that they might not have gone to on a regular day. Having opportunities like this raises awareness and helps build areas like that of around Spode Factory and also the cultural quarter. With masses of change happening locally, Pilgrim's Pit are doing there bit and will open their doors from 11 until 6, and will be offering up dashes of music, poetry and performance.

'As artists we need to collaborate as much as we can, all of the time; to be able to make sure that we continue to grow the culture of understanding that art has a worth within our lives and is useful for Stoke-on-Trent on a whole. There seems to be a deep comprehension that music has its place and is widely supported throughout the city. Throughout events like this where there is a mergence of both music and visual creativity we can grow the understanding that there is a need for both of these to make our city the place it has potential to be. Due to the current nature of receiving information through social media and much of it being lost without ever being acknowledged, to have something tangible and available, is beneficial to growing the visibility of the town.'

Martin Gooding, who will be performing at Pilgrim's Pit, was also at The Lost Gardens last weekend, where he recited a piece he wrote about the city.

'After performing my piece "At War With Our History" at the Lost Garden Festival, I was approached by Shiv from Pilgrim's Pit about performing the piece for the launch of the Art Map. She offered me a fifteen minute slot, I snapped it up, and then it dawned on me, I'm not a poet, I don't have a load of pre-prepared material. So I panicked for a while and then decided to write some stuff. I wrote two poems about being broke and a little piece about Stoke, hopefully they'll go down well, I'm guessing at an arts cafe in Stoke a few people may relate.

The Lost Garden Festival was a great opportunity to try out some new ideas in front of a new audience. It's easy to get caught on the circuit playing to the same people. Hopefully I sparked some debate and sent some people home with something to think about, even if it was an image of me half naked and covered in paint etched into their brains.'

The following is the piece that Martin will be reciting at Pilgrim's Pit tomorrow, in a no doubt splendidly theatrical performance.

1346 years ago missionaries left their home on Holy island, after traversing half the country they rested, not far from the banks of the Trent. With their bare hands they built a wooden church. A meeting point that drew worshippers from miles around.

That single act of creation would forever forge this city's reputation as a settlement of builders, makers and craftsmen.

Stoke Minster still stands today, although the wooden panels have long since been replaced by stones. A testament to Stoke-upon-Trent, the seed that sprouted a great oak of a city.

240 years ago Josiah Spode stood at the Church Street gates. The signature he scrawled across those deeds served as a reminder, this town will always create.

While the mills of Lancashire exported delicate cotton and the mines of Corwall bled tin ,this town set about creating the most beautiful pottery ever witnessed by humanity.

As those who came before us did, we must guide the way to our art through maps, each mark on this page a possible epicentre for another earthquake that could change the face of this city forever.

To achieve this we must evolve, as well as beautiful pottery we must export ideas, ideas that will shape generations, hopefully this map will channel Virgil, guiding each of Stoke's residents deeper into this beautiful inferno of ideas. This unstoppable machine of creation.